Former steeplechase jockey Michael Gerard Walsh III passed away May 12 at First Health Hospice House, in Pinehurst, N.C. surrounded by his wife, family, and friends.
Born on September 26, 1959, Michael was the eldest son of the late Michael and Marion Walsh Jr. and the grandson of the famed Michael “Mickey” Walsh Sr., who founded the Stoneybrook Steeplechase on his farm in 1949 and was a Hall of Fame steeplechase trainer. Michael was born with horses in his blood and in his heart and at a young age became a talented steeplechase jockey riding his grandfather’s horses before and after school.
He won his first steeplechase race at age 16 riding Red Brick House. In 1976, at 17, Michael won the Lovely Night Handicap at Saratoga Race Course aboard Crag’s Corner. Michael went on to become one of the leading amateur steeplechase riders on the circuit, riding many of the horses his grandfather owned or trained.
In addition, Michael rode in Ireland for Ted Walsh, his grandfather’s cousin. Some of his most cherished wins however, came at Stoneybrook where his win photos were filled with the “Walsh Clan” surrounding him in the winner’s circle. After a serious fall at Saratoga ended Michael’s riding career, he began training race horses before starting his next job as an assistant starter on the gate for the New York Racing Association.
After 10 years on the gate, Michael returned to his hometown of Southern Pines, N.C. where he took up his love of golf and worked as a caddie at Pinehurst for several years.
Michael is survived by his wife, Dierdre Walsh; three sisters, Tracey Harbour (David), Chrissie Doubleday (Peter) and Tara York (Mark); and two nieces. Michael was preceded in death by his parents, Michael G. Walsh Jr. and Marion B. Walsh, and his brother Thomas J. Walsh.
A mass will be held to celebrate his life at Sacred Heart Church on Friday, May 19 at 4 p.m. Michael will be buried following mass at Pinelawn Memorial Park beside his parents and grandparents. In lieu of flowers, the family would like to support First Health Hospice and Pallative Care, 150 Applecross Road, Pinehurst, N.C. 28374.